Walmart on Wanamaker Evacuated & Closed After Fire

By: Brian Dorman Email
By: Brian Dorman Email

Captain Joe Drake with the Topeka Fire Department tells 13 News that a fire broke out inside the Walmart store on Wanamaker around 11PM. He says that employees were the ones that got the flames out.

"They noticed it right away and grabbed the dry chemicals and put it out real quick, by the time we got here it was out," Drake said.

Levi Peterson an employee at Walmart says the flames reached at least 4 to 5 feet.

"I was running the buffer and a customer stopped me because I didn't hear the announcement and told me the store was on fire," Paterson said. "They had it out at one point, then all of a sudden flames shot up all over the place and everyone went running for fire extinguishers."

Paterson says the fire started in the sporting goods section and it is believed to be ignited by a bug repellent, something Drake wasn't able to confirm.

"Right now we don't know the cause of the fire, it's under investigation," Drake said.

Hargis Bell's wife was working at the time checking out a family at checkout lane 19.

"There are carts all over the place. People were grabbing their kids out of carts. There was a couple where my wife was working that grabbed their kid and started to run," Bell said.

Bell said he was one of the first to hear and see the fire, "I heard an explosion at first. Then I heard a second one and then I looked over towards the sporting goods and I saw the big cloud of smoke and I yelled, smoke."

Bell said there were dozens of people inside the store at the time as the PA system blared code red, please evacuate the building carefully.

Mothers were seen running with children to the door ways. Some even say there was a bit of panic as all the people rushed to get out of the building.

Captain Drake said their investigation is continuing and a cause of the fire has not been released.

Walmart was able to open just before 2AM.


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